A link to an important article in The Guardian appears at the end of this post.
I was not breastfed as a baby. Because of that, and other reasons, I suspect I got a genuinely raw deal on a healthy start in life.
Educating the public on how to raise children is delicate. Many parents and prospective parents see it as an entitlement issue, and no one — not a healthcare provider, and certainly not any childless person — has a right to speak up.
I wish someone had persuaded my mother to breastfeed me, but I also know if anyone had broached the subject she would have taken offense. While raising me, both of my parents did a lot of things they shouldn’t have done, and they were adamant that they were right every time. Whether it was bottle feeding, corporal punishment, forcing their child to work as a model in print advertising or something else, they always had to be right.
Even when I was very young, I found it disturbing that most bystanders weren’t upset by the way they saw my parents treating me. Witnesses may have known instinctively that something was wrong, but their respect for parental rights outweighed concern for my well-being.
Which is more offensive: The sight of a woman opening her blouse to feed her baby, or a parent hitting a child? The majority answer to that question says a lot about the standards we have in the community.
Society in general has to wise up and stop discouraging breastfeeding. Shaming women for feeding their children naturally instead of carrying bottles and formula to the shopping mall will only damage the public health. Save your disapproval for the times you see a child getting hurt — and, even then, be careful. Abusive parents often treat the kid more severely after a disapproving stranger has walked away.